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John D Salt

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Everything posted by John D Salt

  1. I second the recommendation for "The Mythical Man-Month". The best single book on project management I have met is "Peopleware", by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister. All the best, John.
  2. It's a Crusader gun tractor, doing what Crusader gun tractors do best, towing a gun. This one seems to have build-up sides for deep wading. All the best, John.
  3. A lot of the current fashion in writing about the British Army in WW2 proceeds from the assumption that British officers are essentially chinless wonders with bad teeth, promoted on family connections instead of operational competence. This I think follows the fashion curve shown by similar attitudes towards the commanders who won WW1 at a similar remove of time, about half a century after the war, and a wave of writers who lack fundamental sympathy with their subjects and have grown up all unaware of the essential difficulty of conducting continental warfare against a first-class enemy. Mo
  4. It looks a good deal more attractive when viewed from Saudi Arabia. All the best, John.
  5. But how do you get the smoke into the fortress? As always with chemical weapons, delivery is a much harder problem that developing a harmful agent. There were plenty of occasions when people tried using noxious chemicals in warfare before the 19th century; see http://www.cbwinfo.com/History/ancto19th.shtml for a quick sketch. I doubt that stink-pots, fire-syphons, thunder-bomb oxen and all those weird and wonderful devices that feature in WRG wargames rules could ever have been terribly effective in open warfare. While no doubt the general rejection of CW as a legitimate method of
  6. It's the whole Glencoe thing. If criminality is indeed hereditary, then it makes perfect sense that the name Campbell has been a byword for murderous treachery even longer than Macdonald has been a byword for high-fat fast food (even before Alastair Campbell added fresh tarnish to the name as Bliar's main retailer of official untruth). When I worked in KSFA, a colleague with an interesting past in US military funnies was one Charlie Campbell, and an excellent bloke he was, despite the name. He once told me that he was bimbling around some US city, let's say New York, on, ooh, let's imagi
  7. There are two common ways of slicing up these differences, which causes massive confusion among English speakers because they never know which of the teo their interlocutor is using. Information systems people tend to use "data" for the unfiltered stuff and "information" for what it is turned into; the Army, with less respect for Latin, tend to use "information" for the unfiltered stuff, and "knowledge" for what it is turned in to. I think you're right to worry about clogging up the available comms channels. But then I remember when there was only one radio in a platoon, too, and
  8. I'm not so much worried about what people are doing in the middle of a firefight -- I'm sure bullets heading towards you will do an excellent job of winning your attention from other things -- as the moments before a firefight starts. I want my blokes to see the enemy first. The capital assumption of much of this modern "reconaissance-strike-complex" stuff (as Marshal Ogarkov called it a quarter of a century ago) is that the blokes in the rear with the beer and streaming video feeds from a swarm of drones can know what is going on in front of Corporal Mulligan better than he can himself by t
  9. It might have been Claude Shannon who said it originally, but I heard it first from Graham Mathieson when he said "Everbody asks who consumes information. Nobody asks what information consumes. But the answer is fairly obvious; information consumes the attention of the user." Now, do you want infantrymen head-down looking at their PBI-Pod, or head-up looking at the bad guys trying to hide behind that tree? All the best, John.
  10. Rest assured, security is such a major element in the design of this kind of system that it severely compromises performance. All the best, John.
  11. Another vital factor. If all the previous questions check out OK, then there is only one possible answer; the man was a Communist. Communists can never make a proper cup of tea. They believe that proper tea is theft. All the best, John.
  12. I suspect that this is a special festive typo, to celebrate Christmas. All the best, John.
  13. What tea was the man using? Were you in a hard water area? Was the teapot a brown betty, or something else? Did he put milk in it? Had he ever been in the Army? Was he from Yorkshire? Any of these factors may have been decisive. All the best, John.
  14. You coffee illuminati don't fool me for a minute. This is just an exercise in misdirection, to try to cover up the REAL conspiracy, which is what has prevented travellers in America getting a decent cup of tea ever since 1773. The conspirators even tried to pass the blame on to Native Americans, dammit. All the best, John.
  15. 60 yards is not a particularly untypical range for small-arms fights; and, even so, the reported shots-per-casualty rates are not far off 1,000. I don't understand the remark about "very small actions, infantry is essentially defenceless". I understand that the rounds fired per hit for US Police Officers using handguns is something like 6 -- also a much poorer performance than one might think from first principles, and at ranges so close that you'd think halitosis would be effective, but only about one order of magnitude worse than range shooting instead of the two that British OR f
  16. Not making it up entitrely -- just badly overselling his method and data to reach the conclusion he wanted to get to. The conclusion itself still seems to be quite a good one; and it is sometimes possible to reach a good conclusion by dodgy methods. To take an example from the history of science, I think it is now generally accepted that Gregor Mendel must have rigged his experiment with pea-seeds that pionerred the study of genetics. Who has ever suggested that "fire is as effective as rifle ranges or approximately so"? I don't believe that Marshall claims such a thing anywhere.
  17. My copy of the already-mentioned Laffargue's "Les Lecons du Fantassin" (196th edition, for goodness' sake) mentions precisely this, and contrasts aiming centre target on the range with aiming at the bottom of the target in combat. However, current British (and I believe everyone else's) combat shooting advice is to aim centre mass. Personally, I suspect that the oft-reported idea that most troops in combat fire high is false, for the following reason. Assume that misses are distributed normally around the point of aim. A target at the point of aim, lying on the deck and wishing these b
  18. To quote from Henry Reed's marvellous poem "Judging Distances": ( http://www.solearabiantree.net/namingofparts/judgingdistances.html ) "Whatever you do, don't call the bleeders sheep". All the best, John.
  19. I can't remember which Special Forces officer it was told this to me, and probably shouldn't tell you if I could, but he said something very similar; that special forces didn't do anything different from basic infantry, they just did the basic stuff better, and carried on doing it for longer. Quite a few of the SF people I have met have the physique of weasels. Also, the eyes. In the unlikely event that you haven't read it already, I would also recommend John Ellis' "The Sharp End of War" for a comprehensive view of the all-round vileness of life in the infantry in WW2.
  20. That's the man -- "The forgotten father of battle drill". There has recently (in the past year or three) been a memorial tablet to him place in (IIRC) the senior NCOs' mess at Brecon. Wigram saw battle drill as a means to overcoming the psychological shock of modern close combat. Another approach he expounded, which failed to catch on in the British Army, was "hate training". I can't recall if he's been mentioned yet on this thread, but Dave Grossman ("On Killing" and "On Combat") provides what I think is the best and most recent overall summary of the question of the psychology of kil
  21. Marshall's research methods and presentation have been discredited. His conclusions, however, are still very widely accepted; and similar observations were reported independently, though with less pseudo-science, by Wigram. All the best, John.
  22. One of the reasons Semtex was always such a favourite with terrorists was that it had no smell, making it hard to detect. The manufacturers now add a smellifying compound to make it detectable to sniffer dogs. I don't know what the shelf-life of Semtex is, but I imagine there must be plenty of the old non-smelly stuff left if you know where to look. All the best, John.
  23. With dam' good reason, I'd say. Well done, indeed. Don't let the bastards grind you down, and come home safe. All the best, John.
  24. The other problem is, of course, that with the amount of other gubbins a rifle section is carrying, usually only two blokes have weapons you can actually fit bayonets to. Two men will be carrying Minimis, and another two LSWs, neither of which has a bayonet lug, as only the WW2 Japanese were mad enough to want bayonets on their LMGs. Two men will be carrying UGLs, which the bayonet would interfere with. That leaves only two men, who on the other hand will probably be JNCOs and therefore doubly not the sort of person you want running at you with a pointy steel thing. Not that I susp
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